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What Exactly Do Conservatives Want To Conserve?

04 August 2013 @ 19:34

There seems to be a grand misunderstanding of what it means to be a conservative, especially by those under the age of sixty.

There are conservatives who think that being true to conservative values means that they must be the protectors and preservers of the Status Quo, of the way things are in there here and now. 

This is Leftist Thinking.  And a fatal error of misunderstanding.

A conservative does not seek to preserve institutions just because they have been in existence for a certain amount of time. Rather, the conservative seeks to preserve the hard-won wisdom of the ages, the Permanent Things, which has been paid for in much blood, toil, tears, and sweat. 

If a long-in-existence institution is the product of fantastical thinking, if it was conceived in the throes of the passion of the rejection of The Permanent Things, if it’s continued existence is corrosive to the maintenance of a free and morally ordered society, then the conservative must seek it’s demise.

We are not about conserving things just because they are and have been.  We are not about legitimizing that which experience determines to be illegitimate.  Conservatives, to be truly worthy of the name, must be about conserving that which is proven wise and virtuous, that transcend the day-to-day.  Whether, say, a particular institution should be preserved or not depends on whether it is value-creating or value-sustaining, and that said values are founded in RIght Reason, in the ingredients of The Permanent Things.

Many modern-day conservatives are really Liberals in the old 19th Century definition of the word.  The Liberals, direct products of The Enlightenment, were Utilitarians determined to make Society as efficient as possible.  To achieve this goal, some saw Leftism, through Hegel, Marx, etc., as the answer and so they became unliberal and embraced Totalitarianism.  Some chose to travel down the road of radical individualism, which today is manifested by the Ideology known as Libertarianism.  And some decided to practice a form of cognitive dissonance and remain conservative in some matters and libertarian in others.  Till this day, Utilitarianism remains the attribute they share in general.

As you can see by my description of the third group of Liberals above, Utilitarian thinking is not confined to just Ideologues.  In fact, one could argue that The Utilitarian Impulse has been ingrained in the make-up of Americans since the days of steamboats and cotton gins. 

The people of The United States have made Efficiency a demigod and have nothing but praise for the person who is able to streamline, make cost-effective, and who are methodical [‘ninety-nine percent perspiration’ and all that].  And this is not necessarily a bad thing if restricted to manufacturing and the like.  But it is most definitely wrong when applied to politics, which is the Art Of The Possible, and to social and religious matters.  Efficiency has no place in cultivating and building one’s Moral Sense.  Wielding The Sword Of Imagination does.

‘What exactly do conservatives want to conserve?’  The correct answer is necessary to understand if the freedom and liberty granted by God is to be preserved and to flourish.

5 Comments
  1. M. Thompson permalink
    05 August 2013 @ 12:21 12:21

    I noticed a major difference from two hundred years ago when reading Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke: Paine stressed the idea of a world made new and how it was possible to build institutions from the ground up in a proper fashion, while Burke stressed the continuity of how society is a gift from the past, to be bequeathed to those after us.

    • 05 August 2013 @ 19:56 19:56

      I think experrience shows that one should be wary of people who, in any way, shape, or form, want ‘a world made new’.

      This is why I have problems with T. Jefferson.

      • 05 August 2013 @ 20:19 20:19

        Jefferson, like Paine, was something of a Jacobin. He loved the French Revolution and wanted to import here.

        What we are seeing now is the result of a populace that has forgotten Creation’s God, the giver of life and liberty. Romans 1:18-32 detail what happens when a country forget’s God. John Adams said that our constitution is adequate only for a religious and moral people. The Population of the US has ceased being sufficiently religious and moral. The result will not be not pretty.

  2. 11 August 2013 @ 20:52 20:52

    Bob,
    Good stuff! I would like to read much more. Linked here: http://bobagard.blogspot.com/2013/08/conservatism-it-must-be-about.html

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